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New Year Ceremonies

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    • #3245

      Leicester Home Group, January 2019, Dharma Talk

      It’s just been the New Year, so I’ve been thinking quite a bit about New Years in general. This New Year has had more ceremonies than usual for me. It started in December with the Bodhi Retreat at Amida Mandala Temple in Malvern, then the Solstice Ceremony at Turning Wheel Buddhist Temple in Leicester, then carols in Collingham on Christmas Day, then the New Year Ceremony at Turning Wheel Temple. In the midst of all this, Extinction Rebellion, the new non-violent direct-action organisation committed to working towards ending the current mass extinction of species on Earth, put out an email to try and get people to make events for the new year around the themes of – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Biodiversity, Climate and the Web of Life.

      The intervention from Extinction Rebellion brought back to the forefront of my mind the actions of Gandhi’s non-violent direct-action movement based on the Hindu concept of Satyagraha. Having faith-based concepts as a support for direct action can sometimes be very powerful as faith can tap into the deep, mythic layers of human consciousness (although I wouldn’t want to encourage excluding people of different faiths from taking part in anything so fundamental as protecting species from extinction by being overly religious and putting off those who feel, and maybe have been, harmed by religious organisations).

      Like Gandhi, Jesus put himself between violence and vulnerable beings and he, too, took the consequences. I have a quote from Jesus on the pin board of my home office which reads, ‘You without sin cast the first stone,’ which seems to me to be a good basis for non-violent direct action.

      My pin board has, until recently, not had a Buddhist equivalent, but I have been re-reading Uchiyama Roshi’s books in the last few weeks and the other day I came upon some quotes about the bodhisattva, Samantabhadra , in his writings and they really hit a chord with me. I did some reading around Bodhisattva Samantabhadra and found that, like Jesus, Samantabhadra is said to take the evil karma of all vulnerable beings, equally, onto himself, in order to release them from suffering.

      So, now Samantabhadra has found a place on my pin board and there are now Buddhist words for me to join those of Jesus for me, and I hope that between them, Gandhi, Jesus and Samantabhadra may help me to find ways to make supportive events around Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Biodiversity, Climate and the Web of Life.

      Wishing all beings a peaceful New Year.

    • #3246

      Namo Amida Bu. Thanks Andrew.

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